Windmist Falls has always been a beautiful place to grow up. There's just one problem: a family of witches rules all. With the power to control the minds of everyone over the age of twenty-five, the Stillworns have complete and total domination over nearly the entire town. It used to be that only the teenagers and children were free, though they would grow up knowing of their ultimate fate unless they escaped, leaving behind friends and loved ones.
But recently the "star touched" people, those born with a star tattoo on their collarbone, have found a way to fight back. And after losing her brother to the mind control, Renata Arch is more than ready to put an end to the Stillworn curse, no matter what it takes.
The fire crackled softly with a shower of sparks as the logs shifted. Renata Arch knelt beside and poked cautiously at the center, encouraging the fire to grow. On a cloudy night, it was the only light they had, and no one wanted to risk being outside under dark without a source of light. That was madness. But for one of them, that would soon no longer matter. At the thought, she turned slightly and searched out the tall form of her older brother. She spotted him easily, dancing in the middle of the rest of the teenagers from their town. He looked surprisingly happy as he twirled his girlfriend, Jackie Dems, around in a circle, but Jackie - to no one's surprise - looked like she was on the verge of tears.
“You okay?” asked a soft voice at her elbow. Renata looked into the familiar face of one of her old classmates and managed a small smile.
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “We knew it was coming, so I have no reason to be upset... right?”
Skylar shrugged, taking the sharp stick from her hand. “You could say that. But when Mattie’s older sister was corrupted, he was devestated. It took ages for him to get over it. Sometimes I don’t think he ever did.”
Renata’s chin trembled, and it took all of her willpower to not burst into tears. It wasn’t what Evan needed to see. Not when he already felt overwhelming guilt about having to leave them, even thoug it wasn't and would never be his fault. This was hard enough as it was, though things would be much easier for him, at least, in... She checked her watch and gulped. It was already twenty minutes until midnight, and Evan’s twenty-fifth birthday officially began. Twenty minutes until the day when she would lose the person she knew as her brother forever.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” she confided quietly, curling her hands beneath the loose blue shirt. She’d pilfered it from Evan’s closet several weeks ago, and wearing it made her feel safe and comfortable. “I suppose I never thought this day would come.”
“I’m sorry,” Skylar whispered. “Why didn’t you come visit tomorrow? We’ll get drunk.”
Even though she knew she wouldn’t be taking Skylar up on the offer, Renata nodded and stood up. Evan was beckoning to her, and she knew that it was time to say good-bye. Slowly, wishing that she could put off the inevitable, she walked over to him. He was wearing that funny little half smile that had always annoyed her, like he knew something that she didn’t. His deep blue eyes were sparkling, and his blonde hair was perfectly coiffed, just like always. When she was standing right next to him, he didn’t say anything, but with a simple movement, he jerked Renata into his arms and held onto both her and Jackie so tightly that it hurt. Not that she cared. Renata threw her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his shoulder, trying hard not to listen to the sound of Jackie’s soft sobs
"Hey, now, don’t cry,” he said into Jackie’s red hair. “Don’t cry, Jack. It will be alright. You two will have to take care of each other from now on, you hear?”
“We will,” Renata said, knowing that Jackie was too upset to speak. “Try to remember us and everything that we've been working for, Evan.”
Evan smiled at her grimly. “I will, but you now that no one ever does, Ren. The witch’s power is absolute. No one over the age of twenty-five who doesn’t have that tattoo ever gets away. I don't want you to be disappointed when I end up being the same way.”
Tears filled her eyes. “I know. But I have to hope.”
“I think the time for that is long past,” he said gently, loosening his grip on the two of them. Jackie clung to him even more tightly, her sobs growing louder as she begged him not to leave. Evan’s face twisted, but he resolutely pushed her away and turned his back on them. Renata threw her arms around Jackie to stop her from following as Evan walked out into the forest. He didn’t want them to watch as his mind fell under control of the witches, and everything about him changed.